Robert D. Morris
Professor of Composition
Affiliate Faculty, Music Theory
Acting Chair, Composition Department Fall 2022
Robert Morris (b. 1943) is a composer of a wide diversity of musical forms and media. He has composed over 180 works including computer and improvisational music. He is also known as a prominent music theorist.
Education: BM, Eastman (1965); MM, DMA, University of Michigan (1966-69).
Previous appointments: Director, Yale School of Music Electronic Music Studio (1972-77), University of Pittsburgh Electronic Studio (1976-80). Faculty member, Yale (1969-77), University of Pittsburgh (1976-80), Berkshire Music Center (1982).
University service and awards: Chair of the Composition Department (1999-2005, 2009-11), University Mentor (1982), Bridging Fellowship (Department of Religion and Classics, 1997), University Award for Excellence in Graduate Teaching (1996).
Recipient: Margaret Lee Crofts Composition Fellowship (1967); MacDowell Colony Fellowship (1975); A. Whitney Griswold Award (1975); American Music Center grants (1975, 1991); NEA grant (1978, 2006), ACLS Fellowship (1983), Hanson Institute for American Music (1997, 2000, 2005).
The Trinity Arts Festival of India. “Lifetime Achievement Award” for outstanding contributions as a music composer,” December 23, 2017.
The Society for Music Theory Executive Board Lifetime Membership Award “in recognition of truly outstanding contributions to the field of music theory,” November 3, 2017.
“Festival of the Music of Robert Morris” at Spectrum, New York City including four concerts of his music with performances by Augustus Arnone and Margaret Kampmieier, Collide-O-Scope and the JACK quartet, with preconcert interviews (with Joshua Mailman), September 15-18, 2016.
Perspectives of New Music published a special issue (52/2) entitled “Perspectives On and Around Robert Morris at 70 (table of contents here)” with a three CD recording of “Compositions and Performances in Celebration” (playlist here) PNM/OS compact disc), 2014.
Guest composer: Composer to Composer Conference, Telluride (CO) (1990); ISCM Festival of Contemporary Music (1990); Composers’ Symposium, University of New Mexico (1991 and 2009); Kobe International Modern Music Festival in Japan (1991); The UCSB Contemporary Music Festival (1992); the Heidelberg Festival (2005). The New Music Festival 2009 (Western Illinois University); Center for Research in Electronic Art Technology (University of California, Santa Barbara, 2009); New Music Festival, MidAmerican Center for Contemporary Music (Bowling Green State University, 2010), New Music on the Point (2012, 2015), The University of South Florida at Tampa 2016 New Music Festival, the 2018 Mizzou International Composers Festival, Missouri Theater, Columbia, Missouri, (2018), Ohio University, Athens, Ohio (2018), Livewire 11: Rewired (University of Maryland at Baltimore Country (2021).
Commissions: Pittsburgh Chamber Symphony, Yale Band, Blackearth Percussion Group, Pittsburgh New Music Ensemble, Alienor Harpsichord Foundation, Rochester Philharmonic, National Flute Association, New Millennium Ensemble, Speculum Speculae, CUBE Contemporary Music Ensemble, Ossia, Hanson Institute for American Music, ISCM.
Recordings: Albany Records, AMP Recording, Centaur, CRI, Fanfare, Music and Arts, Music Gallery Editions, Neuma, New Focus, New World, Open Space, Renova , and Yank Gulch.
Special compositional projects: a series of works to be played outdoors in natural settings. Seven of these works are complete and have been performed throughout the United States: Playing Outside, Coming Down to Earth (2002), Oracle (2005), SOUND/PATH/FIELD (2006), Arboretum (2007-8), Sun, Moon, Earth (2012), Four Gardens (2014).
Scholarly publications: Composition with Pitch-Classes: A Theory of Compositional Design (Yale, 1987), winner of the Society for Music Theory’s Distinguished Publication Award (1988), Class Notes for Atonal Music Theory (1991, Frog Peak), Advanced Class Notes for Atonal Music Theory (2004, Frog Peak), The Whistling Blackbird: Essays and Talks on New Music, (2010, University of Rochester Press). Morris’s articles have been published in The Journal of Music Theory, Perspectives of New Music, Journal of the American Musicological Society, Music Theory Spectrum, and other journals. In 2003 and 2011 he was lecturer at the Mannes Institute for Music Theory. He is presently Co-Editor of Perspectives of New Music.